Judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C. has issued a second injunction blocking the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back healthcare protections for transgender people.
The ruling came from a case brought by D.C.’s Whitman-Walker Clinic, along with other health organizations that serve the LGBTQ+ community, and blocks the enforcement of two portions of the ruling issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in June. The guidelines attempting to be passed by the Trump administration grant: 1) a broad exemption allowing healthcare providers to deny any services under citation of their religious beliefs, and 2) a narrowing of the definition of sex discrimination. However, these essentially reverse the Affordable Care Act regulations that protect people from sex and gender-based healthcare discrimination passed under the Obama administration.
“Denying an injunction would impede the public interest by threatening the health of LGBT+ individuals at large, some of whom will likely develop increasingly acute conditions on account of their delaying necessary care or refraining from transparent communication with providers out of fear of discrimination,” Boasberg wrote in the injunction. “There is clearly a robust public interest in safeguarding prompt access to health care. The COVID-19 pandemic only reinforces the importance of that public interest and the concomitant need to ensure the availability and provision of care on a nondiscriminatory basis.”
Judge Boasberg’s ruling comes after Judge Frederic Block of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York also issued an injunction to prohibit the narrowing of the definition of sex discrimination. Both cases are still awaiting their full hearing in court, but the blockages from the judges mean that anti-trans discrimination remains illegal.
In the injunction, Boasberg declined to block two other aspects of the Trump administration’s new rule. For one, he is allowing HHS to lift a ban on direct exclusion of care related to gender transition, as there is no shortage of providers for those services. Boasberg also ruled that HHS was correct in lifting the requirement to issue service notices to those with limited English language proficiency, as the HSS found it to not be very beneficial.